Ever notice how, when you are in a relationship with someone, you tend to speak in shortcuts that the other person knows but maybe someone else won’t understand?
I’ll give you a couple of examples from my own life. When my children were very little, when they wanted to know why I did something, I would answer “only, ‘cause.” My children would then parrot back at me, “Because you love me?” and of course, the answer was yes. As they got older, they stopped adding the second part. But still, “only ‘cause” was one way I could still tell them during their teen years what I felt without embarrassing them.
My husband and I also tend toward verbal short cuts. He might tell me how irritated he got driving because he had both a regulator and bumblebees to contend with. A regulator is our word for someone who rushes to pull his car out in front of you, and then drives at least 20 miles under the speed limit. He wasn’t referring to the insect either in this conversation, when he talked about bumblebees. He meant bikers, who tend to dress for whatever reason in black and yellow and who can get pretty testy with drivers sometimes.
The reason I’m writing on this today, is that I just finished a book where the main characters were supposed to be very close. They did a lot of hugging, a lot of hand holding and yet, I missed those little, telling, verbal shortcuts. Give your characters a real relationship, with no backstory. Have them use language that lets your reader know they have a shared past. I know it will enrich the story.